Make us your home page

State leaders pushing economy may be own worst enemy

For a state obsessed with creating jobs, becoming more business friendly and doling out tax cuts and corporate incentives, our Tallahassee leaders are woefully lacking in one area.

Practicing what they preach.

Lately, too much of the news about economic leadership from the state capital is controversial. The state-run and increasingly tone-deaf property insurer of last resort, Citizens Property, can't seem to move without first inserting its feet in its mouth. The state's Department of Economic Opportunity operates at half-staff because it runs through executive directors at an appalling rate.

Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development arm of the state, faces criticism from a watchdog group for its "pay-to-play" tactics with vendors and failing to create promised jobs. That prompts Enterprise Florida to fight back against such claims — which distracts it from its mission: adding more and better jobs to the state.

The folks running Enterprise Florida are the same ones who picked a Tennessee firm over several competing Florida marketing companies to come up with a brand campaign to better identify "Florida business."

When that brand — "Florida: The Perfect Climate for Business" — was unveiled last month, some prominent female executives objected to the "i" in "Florida" being represented by a man's tie.

Enterprise Florida says that image passed muster with a group of businesswomen in the state and will proceed as the state business brand.

So what has that generated in publicity for "Florida business" by the larger media beyond Florida so far?

"Florida's new business logo is sexist, critics say" is the Feb. 6 headline in a Los Angeles Times story.

"Outrage over Florida's 'sexist' new business slogan that replaces the 'i' with a man's necktie" says Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

Within Florida, most coverage pays scant attention to the new brand but focuses on women who run lots of businesses in Florida but feel the tie brand welcomes men only.

Hardly the media content Florida was hoping for.

Each of these slips by Florida's economic leadership may not amount to much.

Combined, they project an almost Neanderthal image of those in charge of lifting the state economy.

If I had to choose a winner among the losers, it would be Citizens Property Insurance for its sheer consistency of political blunders.

An insurer purportedly designed to provide "last resort" coverage to homeowners and businesses repeatedly has been exposed for poor judgement by:

• Firing internal watchdogs investigating alleged misconduct by supervisors, phony credentials, drunken Coyote Ugly bar dancing and more than $750,000 in severance pay.

• Brushing aside public criticism of lush travel lifestyles of Citizens executives.

• Rewarding Citizens executives lavish salary raises, some topping $30,000 and some amounting to 24 percent pay hikes, at a difficult time in the economy and when the state-run insurer was painfully raising the cost of coverage to Floridians.

If Tallahassee wants to raise the economic bar, let them first raise the bar on how they are perceived.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at

State leaders pushing economy may be own worst enemy 02/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  2. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  3. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  4. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  5. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa


    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton took over the post when 17-year director Anton Coppola retired in 2012 at age 95.